The Staind frontman-turned-country-singer vented about Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Dan + Shay and Cole Swindell during a Sept. 4 performance at the Thunder in the Rockies Bike Rally, thanking them for inspiring his new song, “That Ain’t Country.”
“Sometimes the things I say get me in trouble, and I don’t really give a f--k,” Lewis said. “That being said, I want to thank a few people for inspiring me to write this next song.”
He went on to call several out by name.
More From Taste of Country
“I’d like to thank Sam Hunt — oh, I know, he’s so pretty to look at,” Lewis added. “I’d like to thank Luke Bryan, for most of his stuff — he surprises me every once in a while. I would like to thank Dan + Shay. I’d like to thank Cole Swindell. And every other motherf–er that is just choking all the life out of country music.”
Those remarks caused quite a stir when they went viral online, and in an interview with the Bobby Bones radio show on Thursday, Lewis tried to explain that his comments weren’t made out of personal rancor.
“I was just trying to play to the crowd I was playing in front of it and make a statement. Maybe I didn’t need to call out anybody’s names, but I stand by my statement,” he tells Bones.
When the host asked him why he hated those acts, Lewis protested.
“That’s not true at all. I’ve actually sat and gotten quite drunk with Dan + Shay. I don’t hate them at all,” he insists. “This was not an attack on their character in any way shape or form. You have to put it into context. This was a motorcycle rally in Colorado where everybody was on their way to Sturgis. This was a bunch of black leather-clad wearing, older folks. I was playing to the crowd.”
None of the artists Lewis named have commented publicly.